The Value of Fashion
A personal declaration for a love of fashion.
What is ethical? The definition writes “being in accordance with the standards for right conduct”. To me it is about giving value to something, someone or an action.
Fashion is inherently ethical as it is both a means of communication and an art. Indeed, we all wear clothes every day. Whether we think about it or not, it implies a set of decisions: how we want to be perceived, what we want to invest in, what expresses best our personality. In the era of fast fashion and blind consumption, it is easy to forget the value of clothing. So, here is a humble declaration of love to fashion.
Clothes carry meaning. Whether it is a political message literally printed on a t-shirt or the length of a skirt, clothes send a message. You never think that much when picking up your blue jeans and shirt in the morning? Ok, let’s start with the obvious. We adapt our attire to our surroundings. Our closets are divided into business wear, leisurewear, party outfits and so on. Because an outfit is a like a proclamation, it implies more than how much skin is shown. The cuts, fabrics and colors are related to symbols and references. For instance, throughout history, black cloth has been attributed to monarchy, mourning or minimal avant-garde.
Fashion helps us fit into a group or stand out from a crowd. It conveys an immediate image with which we can play and reinvent ourselves daily. Garments can be an armor that protects us in a business setting, making us feel empowered and in control. They can help us connect with other people by using the same codes. They are so representative of us and our choices that even taking them off is a statement, think about the Femen activists who chose to protest topless against patriarchy or just about the image we have of someone who walks barefoot in the street.
Your clothes tell stories. Clothes should be cherished; they can be lifelong mates, each having their own special story to tell. A silk scarf that belonged to a grandmother, passed on from one generation to the other, a best friend’s top exchanged on a summer trip or these earrings gifted by a former boyfriend. Like tattoos on your skin, some garments are memories of your past experiences. Next time you open your closet, look at its contents with different eyes, remind yourself of the meaning each piece carries. It might be the jacket you wore on your first interview or the dress that you only save for special dates. Isn’t it beautiful how those items are like friends with whom you have shared adventures over the years?
This is why, I believe in investing in what we buy. Avoid bad quality, trends that don’t represent you and unethical businesses. Choose well designed to be surrounded by beauty, choose well made to always be comfortable and choose fairly produced to advocate for a better world. It all comes down to beauty, you have the power and the opportunity to create your little world of beauty, write your own definition and make decisions according to it. Fashion is an art, a game, and a stage on which you are the only director. Buy what expresses your tastes and values. And most of all, put value back into what you own.
Elvire is a Fashion Branding student, studying in Europe and Australia and is currently undertaking a Branding & Social Media internship at Dorsu.